Is It Illegal to Drive Without Insurance?
Insurance premiums can be tough to fit into your budget. So when things are tight, you may wonder: “Do I really need car insurance? Can I get away with not having it? And what’s the penalty for driving without insurance?”
Here are the short answers: Yes, it’s illegal to drive without car insurance in all but two states. You’ll almost certainly get caught, either by the police or by the state’s verification system. And the consequences of driving without insurance can be severe — not to mention expensive.
Thankfully, finding and comparing the best auto insurance quotes is easier now than it’s ever been. You can use Compare.com to compare multiple companies at once and find the cheapest car insurance option for you. That way, you won’t have to risk the fees and penalties that come with driving uninsured.
Why Is It Illegal to Drive Without Insurance?
Driving without insurance is illegal because the cost of a car accident can be financially devastating for you and all involved.
If you’re at fault in an accident and you have insurance, then your insurer can pay the claims filed by the person you hit. If you don’t have insurance, you’ll have to pay for the victims’ hospital bills, car repairs, and other losses out of your own pocket— or risk getting sued.
In the United States, the average auto liability claim for property damage is $3,638, and the average auto liability claim for bodily injury is $15,270. Can you afford to pay that much out of pocket? And those are just averages — in many cases, the victim of a car accident has sued the at-fault driver for millions.
In two states — New Hampshire and Virginia — it’s legal to drive without insurance. However, you must pay for any damages if you cause a car accident, and in Virginia, you must pay $500 for the privilege of driving uninsured. If you live in one of these two states, think carefully before opting out of car insurance; you never know what will happen out on the roads, and you don’t want to end up on the hook for damages you can’t afford.
What Happens If You Get Caught Driving Without Insurance?
Tickets, fines, and punishments for driving without car insurance depend on the state where you live. (We list each state’s penalties below.) In general, the penalties may include:
- A fine
- Jail time
- Points on your license
- The suspension of your license, registration, and/or plates
- Having your vehicle impounded
- Court fees and reinstatement fees
- The requirement to file an SR-22. An SR-22, sometimes called a certificate of financial responsibility, is filed with the state that proves you have car insurance. If you’re required to have an SR-22, you’re considered a high-risk driver, which means your insurance will be considerably more expensive.
Many states also have a “no pay, no play” law. Meaning if you’re hurt in a car accident that was someone else’s fault, but you don’t have car insurance, there may be a limit on how much you can collect in damages. In Michigan, an uninsured driver may have to pay for other people’s injuries and losses — even if the uninsured driver didn’t cause the crash.
Do I Need Insurance to Drive Someone Else’s Car?
Some people wonder, “Can I drive uninsured if the owner of the car has insurance?” Or: “When you’re borrowing someone else’s car, does the insurance come with it?”
These are tricky questions. In general, as long as you have permission to drive the vehicle, the owner’s policy should cover injuries and property damage — but that depends on the specific terms of their policy. If the driven car is not insured, then both the driver and the owner may face penalties.
Before you drive someone else’s car, it’s wise to research the laws in your state and ask them about the terms of their insurance policy.
What Are The Penalties and Ticket Fines For Driving Uninsured In Your State?
How much is a ticket for driving without insurance? We’ve rounded up the consequences in every state. Be aware, however, that laws may change, and the penalties for driving uninsured can vary, so always look for the most updated information from your specific state.
The penalty for driving without insurance in Alabama ( first offense) is a fine of up to $500 and suspended registration. You’ll have to pay $200 to reinstate it. For a second offense, the fine can go up to $1,000, and you’ll have to pay a $400 reinstatement fee.
What happens if you don’t have car insurance in Alaska? Driving without insurance can lead to a $500 fine and suspension of your license for up to a year, depending on your violations. Your vehicle may also be impounded, which means you have to pay to get it back.
The penalty for driving without insurance in Arizona (first offense) is a fine of up to $250 and a suspended license for up to three months. For a second offense, within 36 months, your fine is at least $500, and a suspended license up to six months.
For the third offense in that period, the penalty for driving without insurance is a fine of $750+ and a year-long suspension of your license. You’ll also need an SR-22 form — and that gets expensive!
Arkansas now has an automated system that tracks insurance status on all vehicles, and if your car insurance lapses, you’ll automatically have to pay a $100 fine. Additionally, if you don’t produce a new insurance policy within a month, the vehicle’s registration will be suspended, which requires a $20 fee to be reinstated.
The penalty for being caught driving without insurance is a fee of $50-250. Police can also seize your car’s license plate if they pull you over and you have no proof of insurance.
A second offense carries a mandatory $250 to $500 fine, and a third offense may mean up to a year in jail plus a fine of up to $1,000.
The fine for driving without insurance in California, for a first offense, is $100 to $200, plus any additional assessments, and they may impound your car as well. If you’re caught again within three years, your fine will be between $200 and $500, plus assessments.
If you provide fake proof of insurance in California, that’s a misdemeanor — and the penalties get a lot worse. You can get up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $750. Plus, you’ll lose your license for a year.
When punishing uninsured drivers, Colorado does not play around. For a first offense, the penalty is a minimum $500 fine and the suspension of your license until you can prove that you’re insured. You’ll also get four points on your license.
Drive uninsured a second time, and you’ll pay a minimum $1,000 fine and have your license suspended for four months. A third offense means a minimum $1,000 fine and license suspension for eight months. You may also have to perform up to 40 hours of community service if ordered by the court. Trust us: It’s a lot cheaper just to buy insurance.
If you’re caught driving without insurance in CT, you may have to pay a fine of $100 to $1,000. Not only that, but if you own an uninsured vehicle, you can be convicted of a Class C misdemeanor — which carries a fine of up to $500, imprisonment up to three months, or both.
There are more penalties, too:
- Your driver’s license and registration are suspended for one month (for a first conviction) or six months (for later convictions).
- You pay a fee of $175 to restore your license and registration.
- They can seize your vehicle.
It’s a tiny state with enormous penalties for driving uninsured. How much is the fine for no insurance?
You’re looking at a fine of no less than $1,500 for the first offense and $3,000+ for subsequent violations within three years. On top of that, they will suspend your driving privileges for six months.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, Florida has the highest percentage of uninsured drivers — 26.7%. If you drive without insurance in Florida, the penalty includes suspending your registration and license plates for up to three years (or until you provide proof of insurance) and a reinstatement fee of $150 to $500.
Driving without insurance in Georgia is a misdemeanor. A conviction means a fine between $200 and $1,000, imprisonment for up to 12 months, or both.
The penalties for driving without insurance in Hawaii include a fine of $500 for the first offense and $1,500 for each subsequent violation that occurs within five years. You’ll also have your license suspended for three months for the first conviction or one year for later convictions.
Multiple convictions for driving uninsured in HI could also result in up to 30 days in jail, suspended registration, and the impoundment of your car.
The first time you’re caught driving without insurance in Idaho, you just have to pay a $75 fine. No big deal, right? But be careful. If it happens a second time within five years, that’s a misdemeanor. In that case, you’re facing a fine of up to $1,000 and up to 6 months in jail.
The penalties for driving without insurance in Illinois are steep: a fine of $500-$1,000, a suspended driver’s license, and an extra $100 reinstatement fee.
Suppose your license plates are suspended due to a previous insurance violation. In that case, you’ll have to pay another $1,000 fine on top of that, and you may also be required to file an SR-22 annually, which will make your insurance rates go way up.
Caught driving without insurance in Indiana? You’ll have your license suspended for at least 90 days, and you’ll have to pay $250 to get it back. You’ll also have to carry an SR-22 for three years. Get caught a second time, and you’ll lose your license for a year and pay a $500 fee; a third time and the reinstatement fee goes up to $1,000.
Luckily for you, cheap car insurance isn’t hard to get in Indiana! Here’s our guide to finding cheap car insurance in Indiana.
The penalties for driving without insurance in Iowa include paying a fine of $250 (or doing community service). They can impound your license plates and/or your vehicle, and you’ll also have to pay the towing, storage, and administrative fees.
Did you know that, of all 50 states, Iowa has the second-cheapest auto insurance? Here’s our guide to finding cheap car insurance in Iowa.
In Kansas, driving without insurance is a misdemeanor, which carries a $300 to $1,000 fine and/or up-to 6 months in jail. If you’re caught a second time within three years, you’re looking at a fine of $800 to $2,500, plus a driver’s license suspension.
The penalty for driving without auto insurance in Kentucky is having your registration revoked. The vehicle owner and the vehicle driver may also pay a fine of $500 to $1,000 and/or serve up to 90 days in jail.
If the police catch you driving without insurance in Louisiana, you can have your registration suspended, your license plates canceled, and your vehicle impounded. You may also have to pay a $500 or more fine, plus $60 in fees to reinstate your registration. And that’s just for a first offense — the cost goes up for subsequent convictions.
We know insurance can be expensive. Here’s our guide to finding cheap car insurance in Louisiana.
The penalties for driving without insurance in Maine are pretty straightforward: a fine of $100 to $500 and the suspension of your driver’s license and registration.
In Maryland, letting your insurance lapse can get extremely expensive. You’ll have to pay $150 in uninsured motorist penalty fees for the first 30 days without insurance — and then $7 for each additional day, up to a max of $2,500. And that’s just for an insurance lapse!
If the police catch you driving without insurance in Maryland, that’s a misdemeanor, and the penalty is 5 points on your license, a $1,000 fine, and up to one year in jail. A second offense results in an additional 5 points, up to two years in jail, and a fine of $2,000.
Don’t risk it! Just get insured. Here’s our guide to finding cheap car insurance in Maryland.
How much is the fine for no insurance in Massachusetts? For a first offense, you may have to pay $500. The courts can suspend your license for 60 days, and then you’ll need to pay an additional $500 to get it reinstated. For later convictions, your license can be suspended for up to one year, the fine increases to a max of $5,000, and you could even face a year in jail for driving without insurance.
Penalties for driving without insurance in Michigan may include a fine between $200 and $500, up to a year in jail, and the suspension of your license and registration.
Driving uninsured in Minnesota is a misdemeanor that results in a fine ($200 -$1,000, although you can perform community service if you can’t afford to pay) and the suspension of your license, plates, and registration. You’ll have to pay $30 and show proof of insurance to reinstate them. Jail time is also a possibility.
Did you know Mississippi has one of the nation’s highest rates of uninsured drivers? Driving without insurance in Mississippi is a misdemeanor, which means a $100 fine, up to $400 in additional fees, and the suspension of your license until you prove you have insurance.
If you fail to maintain your insurance, the penalty is $1,000 and the suspension of driving privileges for one year, or until you show proof of insurance.
In Missouri, the penalties for driving uninsured are pretty light for your first offense. Failing to provide proof of insurance is a misdemeanor. You’ll get four points on your license, and you’ll have your license suspended until you pay $20 to reinstate it.
However, a second offense means up to 15 days in jail and/or a fine up to $500, plus a 90-day license suspension and a $200 reinstatement fee. Later convictions add a year-long suspension and a $400 reinstatement fee.
You can be charged with a misdemeanor if the police catch you driving uninsured in Montana. For a first offense, there’s a penalty of $250 to $500 or up to 10 days in jail. A second offense means a minimum $350 fine or 10 days in jail. They also revoke your driver’s license for 90 days, and you’ll get 5 points. If you’re caught driving without insurance a third time (or more), the penalties are a fine of $500, up to six months in jail, or both.
Citations for driving without car insurance in Nebraska are given to the owner of the vehicle — not the driver if they’re operating someone else’s car. The penalty is having your license and registration suspended. You must file an SR-22 for three years and pay a $50 reinstatement fee to get them back.
The penalties for driving uninsured in Nevada include suspension of your license and registration and paying a $251 reinstatement fee. If your insurance lapses for longer than 30 days, you must pay an additional fine of up to $1,000, depending on how long you didn’t have insurance.
That’s just for a first offense! The second time you’re caught, the reinstatement fee rises to $501, and the potential fines may be $500 to $1,000. A third offense within five years gets even more expensive, with a maximum cost of $1,751 and a minimum 30-day license suspension.
Driving without insurance in NJ can be a very, very expensive mistake. A first offense means a fine of $300 to $1,000; an extra DMV surcharge of $250, to be paid each year for three years; community service; and the suspension of your license for one year. That’s right – one whole year.
A second offense for driving uninsured in NJ is worse: a fine up to $5,000, a mandatory sentence of 14 days in jail, even more, community service, and a two-year license suspension.
Save yourself the pain by finding cheap New Jersey insurance. Here’s our guide to buying car insurance in New Jersey.
In New Mexico, driving without insurance results in a fine of up to $300 and/or up-to 90 days in jail. Your registration will be suspended too.
The penalty for driving without car insurance in NY (or letting someone else drive your uninsured vehicle) is a fine of up to $1,500 or up to 15 days in jail. The courts will revoke your license and registration for at least a year, and you’ll have to pay $750 for reinstatement. Not only that, but New York charges a daily penalty for insurance lapses: $8 to $12 per day, depending on the length of the lapse.
Having a hard time finding NY auto insurance you can afford? Here’s our guide to getting cheap car insurance in New York.
Driving without car insurance in NC is a misdemeanor that can result in the suspension of your vehicle registration for up to 30 days. The penalty for letting your insurance lapse ranges from $50 for the first lapse (plus a $50 restoration fee) to $150 (plus the fee) for a third or subsequent lapse.
The good news is, you can find affordable NC insurance on Compare.com! Here’s our guide to finding cheap car insurance in North Carolina.
The penalties for driving without car insurance in North Dakota — which is considered a class B misdemeanor — include:
- A mandatory fine of at least $150.
- The suspension of your license.
- A $50 reinstatement fee.
After a second offense, you’ll have to surrender your license plates.
If you’re caught driving without insurance in Ohio, you’ll lose your driver’s license, registration, and plates until you prove you have insurance. You’ll also have to pay a $100 reinstatement fee and maintain special high-risk insurance for at least three years. A second offense carries a one-year suspension and a $300 reinstatement fee; a third or subsequent offense means a two-year suspension and a $600 fee.
Driving uninsured in OK? Not OK. You’ll have to pay a fine of up to $250 and/or serve a 30-day jail term. Your vehicle may be impounded, and your license plates may be seized, which means you’ll have to pay the storage fees and a $125 fee to get your plates back.
Driving uninsured in Oregon can lead to a fine of up to $1,000 and a suspended license. To get it back, you’ll need to file an SR-22 for the next three years.
If you’re caught driving without insurance in PA, you’ll get hit with a laundry list of penalties:
- A minimum $300 fine.
- A three-month suspension of your vehicle registration and license — or a $500 fee to get your registration reinstated sooner.
- A fee to restore your vehicle registration.
- A fee to restore your driver’s license.
The penalties for driving uninsured in Rhode Island are a license/registration suspension of up to three months and a fine of $100 to $500 for a first offense. The second time you’re caught, penalties increase to a six-month suspension and a $500 fine. Once you drive with a suspended license more than 3 times, your license/registration may be suspended for up to one year, and you could be fined $1,000.
If you’re a vehicle owner in South Carolina, your provider will notify the DMV if you cancel your policy, and you’ll receive notice that you must have your new insurance company verify your coverage within 20 business days.
If your coverage isn’t confirmed, you’ll face the following consequences: your driving privilege, license plate, and vehicle registration will be suspended, and you may have to pay up to $400 to be reinstated.
If you’re caught driving without insurance, your license and registration will be suspended until you pay a $600 uninsured motorist fee, and you must also get your insurance company to file an SR-22 for three years.
Driving uninsured in South Dakota is a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of $100 to $500 and/or up-to 30 days in jail. Your license will be suspended for at least 30 days, and you’ll have to pay a reinstatement fee and file SR-22 insurance to get it back.
The penalties for driving without car insurance in Tennessee (a class C misdemeanor) include:
- A fine up to $300.
- The suspension of your driver’s license and registration.
- The impoundment of your vehicle.
You’ll have to pay extra fees to get your license, registration, and vehicle back and file an SR-22.
Driving without insurance in Texas can mean paying penalties for years to come.
First-time offenders must pay a fine of up to $350, plus court costs and additional fees. Then, you’re stuck paying a surcharge to the DMV of $250 per year for the next three years.
A second offense carries a fine of up to $1,000, plus the same surcharge. However, if you show proof of insurance and prepay your six-month premium, you may be able to get the surcharge dropped to $125 per year.
Here’s a much better bargain: Find cheap car insurance in Texas!
In Utah, driving without insurance is a Class B misdemeanor, which carries a fine of at least $400 for a first offense and $1,000 for subsequent violations within three years. Your license and registration will be suspended, and you can’t get them back until you show proof of insurance and pay reinstatement fees.
The penalty for driving uninsured in Vermont is a fine up to $500, an assessment of points on your license, and/or the suspension of your driver’s license. Failing to show proof of insurance means a fine of up to $100.
Virginia allows you to drive without car insurance if you pay a $500 uninsured motorist fee (this doesn’t protect you in case of an accident). If you don’t pay this fee, the penalties for driving uninsured in VA include paying a $600 non-compliance fee and the suspension of your license, registration, and plates.
To get your driving privileges back, you’ll have to pay a reinstatement fee and file an SR-22 for three years.
The penalties for driving uninsured in Washington include a possible fine of $550 or more and having your license suspended.
Driving without insurance in DC can result in massive fines. If you’re caught (either by police or by the District’s electronic verification system), you’ll have to pay a $150 fine for a lapse in insurance coverage from 1 to 30 days, plus $7 for each additional uninsured day after the first 30 days, up to a maximum of $2,500. Your registration can be suspended, too.
In Wisconsin, driving without insurance can result in a fine of up to $500 — plus a fine of $10 for failing to show proof of insurance. Trying to get away with fake or fraudulent proof of insurance can mean a considerable fine: up to $5,000.
The penalties for driving without car insurance in Wyoming are tough. A first offense can mean a fine of $250 to $750 and/or up-to six months in jail. A second offense may result in a fine of $500 to $1,500 and/or up-to six months in jail, as well as losing your registration and license plates.